Fast food packaging waste

The validity of single use products may be questionable from an environmental viewpoint, but living as we do in the 21st century with a strong bias toward convenience over cost, the use of disposable products is strongly engrained in our culture. Although this could be considered as wasteful, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with disposing of a single use item once it has served it’s purpose if its components blend back into the natural cycle of life. Ecolotec is promoting the use of genuinely compostable products which we hope you will appreciate.

When we buy an item of food we often dispose of the most expensive part of the purchase, the packaging, but in many cases that is just the beginning, as the real cost to the environment does not even enter into the equation.

Traditionally, the role of packaging has been to protect products or materials. In addition to this primary role, packaging has several secondary roles, which include marketing, enhancing convenience and reducing handling costs.

Increasingly, the primary purpose (protection) has been subordinated by the secondary purposes - especially marketing. Consumers often see the attractiveness of the pack as a reason to purchase.

From the manufacturers’ perspective there is a strong but unwelcome motivation to use unnecessary materials in which environmental concerns are secondary to perceptions about marketing advantage.

Health and safety issues are also considerations in packaging. Currently, especially in food and medical packaging, these considerations completely override environmental factors.

The overuse of packaging materials is both a burden on our planet's capacity to produce and at the end of use a burden on its ability to reintegrate the waste materials produced into the cycle of life.

There exists a movement to counter the unnecessary use of packaging, but for the vast majority of us in the developed world, purchasing everything in bulk is not a realistic option. In parallel, some companies and individuals are working to create and promote the use of viable alternatives to the offending traditional offerings which usually involves the use of plastics.

Ecolotec represents some of them on this website.

Detailed discussion about the use and overuse of plastics is well outside the scope of this page but here is an interesting overview. Read more...

Ecolotec is not against the use of plastics, but believe they should be considered as a luxury to be used only where no other practical alternative exists, and certainly not in the cause of marketing wastefulness.

Overall individual commercial choices can influence a change in suppliers behaviour, but in the initial phases a price premium nearly always has to be accepted, due in the most part to higher costs associated with small scale manufacture.